Pope Francis returned recently from a pastoral visit to Colombia, a country marred by decades of terrorism, assassinations and civil war.
In 2016 a painstakingly negotiated peace plan had been presented to the population in a referendum. But there was opposition to negotiating with terrorists. The peace plan anticipated terrorists abandoning their armed struggle to participate in mainstream politics. The plan was narrowly rejected. Speaking on the final day of his visit, Pope Francis pleaded with all parties: "Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements."
This was an indirect reference to Pope Francis's personal devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots. Pope Francis encountered the image of Mary, Untier of Knots while stationed in Germany in 1986 studying for his doctorate. He visited the church of St Peter am Perlach in Augsburg and saw the painting in which Mary holds a knotted ribbon in her hands – representing our lives and the knots that cause us suffering – and patiently works to untie the knots. He bought a postcard of the image and took it back with him to Argentina and had the image copied. That picture is now the centre of devotion in the church of San José del Talar in Buenos Aires. Devotion has spread throughout Argentina and continues to spread throughout the world.
A Novena to Mary, Untier of Knots will take place from Friday 29 September to Saturday 28 October at Saint Mary of the Isle, Douglas. Each day we will petition Mary, Untier of Knots, to untie the knots in our lives. Some are of our own making, others due to the actions of others or to the circumstances of life: knots of injustice, disappointment, grief, loss, hopelessness, betrayal, resentment, and physical and mental suffering in all its forms.